Category Archives: tomatoes

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Hamburger Soup

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Soup is one of my favorite meals and since so many soups are quick to make, they are a  staple in my house. Filling, warming and satisfying soups make for the perfect dinner when paired with crusty bread and make even better leftovers for lunch the next day. And just about anything can be turned into a satisfying soup. This recipe, adapted from The Noble Pig has quickly become a favorite in my house where I liberally substitute the vegetables and even the ground meat depending upon what I have on hand. And thanks to the tangy and flavorful V-8, another favorite pantry staple, the broth is rich and flavorful without hours of cooking.

So if you are looking for a fast and tasty weeknight dinner idea, look no further than this soup. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

HAMBURGER SOUP

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

2 pounds ground beef

1-1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch thick coins

1-1/2 cups celery, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 leek, white and green parts only, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup frozen corn

4 cups beef broth

1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

15 ounces V-8 vegetable juice

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 pound small dry pasta

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • Place a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, using a spoon to crumble the meat.
  • Drain off the fat.
  • Add the carrots, celery, leek, corn, broth, V8, garlic and oregano to the meat mixture.
  • Increase the temperature to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Return the temperature to high, add the pasta to the pot and cook until the pasta is al dental,8-10 minutes depending upon the size of your pasta.
  • Stir in vinegar right before serving.

Serves 6-8

Asian Sloppy Joes

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Here is a new twist on a childhood classic and these sandwiches certainly aren’t the Manwiches you grew up with. The recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger Restaurant and combines the best of Asian flavors in a fun form. Sambal Oelek is a spicy chile sauce which adds zip to any dish. If you aren’t familiar with it, try a bit before adding it to your meat mixture. I love it but it is spicy so a little goes a long way. Three tablespoons might add too much spice for your family so add less (or more) if you prefer.

The recipe calls for using a mixture of ground pork and ground chicken but feel free to substitute ground turkey or lean beef if you prefer. You can serve these sandwiches as bite sized sliders or as full-sized sandwiches for a quick dinner.  Like their namesake, these sandwiches are messy so put plenty of napkins on the table, use a fork and knife if you prefer, and dig in. These are a new family favorite in our house.

ASIAN SLOPPY JOES

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground pork

1 pound lean ground chicken

1 cup Hoisin sauce

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

8 large or 20 small rolls, split

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the onions, celery, Sambal Oelek, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Combine all of the ingredients then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the ground pork and chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat.
  • Stir in the Hoisin sauce, tomatoes, and lime juice and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve on top of the rolls.

Yields: 8 large or 20 small sandwiches.

Bolognese Sauce

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Some dishes are simply classics. They are the go-to recipes that you return to over and over again. In my family bolognese sauce is one of those recipes. Rarely does a week go by without our eating a steaming plate of pasta topped with rich bolognese sauce for dinner. Its comforting, satisfying and when I make a pot of the sauce over the weekend, becomes the perfect fast weeknight dinner.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of ItalianIts taken me years to find my right balance of meat, vegetables and sauce but I think I’ve finally found my magic combination. The key to a good sauce is long and slow cooking. The process just can’t be rushed if you want to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and texture. I’m also a fan of including a piece of parmesan rind in my sauce. Most people discard this hard remnant of cheese but I stash my leftovers in the freezer then pop one into my sauce while it simmers. It adds a richness and complexity that you just can’t find any other way. If you don’t have a parmesan rind on hand that’s ok to. Skip it for now but save it the next time you use up your hard parmesan cheese. Try it once and you too will be a convert.

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 leek, quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 cup drained and chopped plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 parmesan rind

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • Melt the butter in a large heavy pot set over medium-low heat.
  • When the butter has melted add the pancetta, carrot, celery and leek. Stirring occasionally, cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the ingredients are golden brown and tender.
  • Add the ground pork and ground beef to the pot and stir well.
  • Raise the heat to medium and stirring often in order to break up the meat, cook until the meats are lightly browned and crumbled with most of the juices having evaporated. This should take about 20 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, water, milk, parmesan rind, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well.
  • Allow the mixture to just begin to simmer then reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 1 hour. If the mixture becomes too thick you can add in a bit more water.
  • Partially cover the pot and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and dark brown, an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Skim off any fat that floats to the surface of the sauce and serve over hot pasta. Alternatively, let cool, cover and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat, additionally additional water or wine as necessary to get the right texture.

Yields 4 cups

Beef Gyros

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek food. Regardless of the season the tangy Greek flavors of feta cheese, oregano and fresh dill inspire images of sun drenched Greek beaches. And this time of year, when the weather is especially gray and dreary, I find myself longing for a Greek Island getaway. When that isn’t possible, I head to the kitchen and cook up my own Greek feast.

These gyros, adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers, comes pretty close to channeling the Greek Island experience. Here beef is substituted for the traditional lamb (which is also delicious but sometimes difficult to find). The meat is marinated in a lemon-oregano mixture which ensures that every bite is juicy and flavorful. As a finishing touch the entire gyro is topped with Tzatziki Sauce- the yogurt, dill and cucumber sauce that Greece is famous for.

So here’s to getting your own dose of the Greek Islands. Enjoy!

BEEF GYROS

For the Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup cucumber, diced small

3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

For the gyros:

1 pound beef steak tips, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups salad greens

2 tomatoes, sliced

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

4 pita breads

  • To make the tzatziki sauce, place the cucumber and half of the yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  •  Add mixture to a medium sized bowl and stir in remaining yogurt, the dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Add additional salt, if needed  and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To prepare the gyros, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the meat to a zip top bag or bowl, and pour marinade over the beef. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, set grill to medium low heat
  • Place the meat on the grill, (you can place meat on skewers if you prefer) and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are done to your preference.
  • Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
  • Evenly divide the meat on a pita shell, top with the salad greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and the Tzatziki Sauce.

Serves 4

 

Ricotta & Artichoke Pasta

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

What makes an already fast dinner even faster? Cooking the entire dish in one pan and that is exactly what you have with this recipe that has been adapted from Cooking Light. The fresh pasta cooks quickly right in the skillet with the vegetables and the cheese. Easy peasy and oh so tasty. Enjoy!

RICOTTA & ARTICHOKE PASTA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup prechopped onion
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups artichokes, halved
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 – 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  •  Preheat broiler to high.
  •  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
  • Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic to pan and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chicken broth, the artichokes, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil. Stir to combine.
  • Cover; reduce the heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and dot the pasta mixture evenly with the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
  • Place pan under broiler. Broil mixture 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
  • Sprinkle evenly with basil.

Serves 4

Tomato & Jalapeno Salsa

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Nothing completes a great Mexican dish more than a side of freshly made salsa. And despite what you may think fresh salsa is incredibly easy to make; so easy that you’ll never go back to the jarred version again.

I love to use grape tomatoes for this dish since they are so sweet, have minimal seeds and easy to cut up. If you prefer you can use another type of tomato but you may want to remove some of the seeds before adding them to the bowl. The same goes for the jalapeño pepper. If you prefer a more fiery dish there isn’t any need to remove the seeds before mincing the pepper. You can also add an additional if you like (I usually do).

This salsa is perfect with tacos or fajitas, as a dressing for a salad or filling for an omelet or as a dip for tortilla chips. Actually, it is pretty darn good regardless of how you use it. Enjoy!

TOMATO & JALAPENO SALSA

1 quart grape tomatoes, quartered

1 jalapeño pepper, minced, more to taste

1 small shallot, minced

1 bunch cilantro,minced

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well to combine.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  • Stir well, add additional salt if needed and serve.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups

 

 

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